Carina CappellariEver wondered if it were possible to work a full time job and race the UCI World Cup circuit? Carina Cappellari is doing just that. While working as the Head of Operations and Administration for a coffee company, she makes time for travel, training and riding with friends. Introduced to mountain biking through cross-country riding with her dad, we talk with Carina about what it's like to race at the top level while working full time.
I'm a 27-year-old downhill racer from Switzerland that loves to have a good time on any kind of bike. As I'm not a full-time pro, I would describe downhill racing as the hobby I wrap my life around.
Where are you from and where do you live now?
I was born and raised in Walenstadt and now live in Chur which is a 20-minute drive from Lenzerheide.
Who do you ride for?
I ride for teamproject.ch, a full Swiss DH team and we are supported by: Devinci Bikes, RockShox, Sram, DT Swiss, Onza Tires, Deity Components, Hopetech, HT-Components, Flat Tire Defender, Ride 100%, iXS, Five Ten, Muc-Off, ClifBar, Rema Tip Top AG, Bomatec AG, Mizu Europe. Our coach is Arno Galmarini (Elite Training Switzerland) and I'm supported by the Tamina Therme, Buff Switzerland and the Alpen bike park Chur.
What does a typical day look like for you?
It depends whether I’m working or not. I train 6 days per week so on the day without work I'll go to the gym in the morning and get on a bike in the afternoon. In between, I prepare food and relax. If I spend my day at the office I’m home around 5pm and then go to the gym or for a ride. In the winter I don’t really get to ride a lot so I run, XC ski or go bouldering.
How did you get into downhill racing?
I raced cross-country starting in 1998 at age 6 and after a good decade, I lost the motivation for it. In 2009, the Swiss Champs took place close to our house. I finished 2nd in juniors but the result didn’t really matter because since then DH racing was all I wanted to do.
What are your strengths?
The skills from riding cross-country in my younger years helps me with technical sections. This experience and having good mindset help me to bring a run down when it counts.
What are your weaknesses?
Time and jumps. Time in the case of being able to prepare myself for races or being able to recover from training sessions and races. Jumps are always the features on a race track I focus on most. I've had a few big crashes involving jumps so I approach them with respect. The feeling when I hit a jump and everything works out how it should is a great reward for me and I’m always super stoked about it.
What’s been the worse crash you've had?
Back in 2012 at Fort William. It was my second ever World Cup final and I had a big crash midway down. The injuries were internal (pancreas, kidney, lung). It ended with a helicopter ride to a bigger hospital and after a few days, I was able to be transported by the Swiss air ambulance. They flew me to a hospital back in Switzerland where I spent 2 more weeks. Luckily I recovered from all the injuries and have no long term damage.
Do you have any big projects or trips planned for the rest of 2019?
As I'm working and use all my holiday to go to the World Cup races there is not much time left to go on big trips. Travelling to all the World Cups (even if some of them are close) are my “trips” and I absolutely love it!
Where’s your favorite place to ride?
At home. I have the Alpenbikepark in Chur plus a whole lot of other options right at my doorstep. It also makes a difference who I ride with. When I’m with cool group of bike people who love bikes the location becomes secondary.
How did you get into mountain biking?
When I was 6 years old my dad started to ride mountain bikes with his friends. Later he entered a couple of marathon XC races and our whole family went to support him. The day before the “big” race kids races took place and I started doing them. From there we always did the whole Swiss XC series. It was a very cool experience and a few former “competitors” are still racing XC at the World Cups.
What bikes are you riding right now?
I ride my Devinci Wilson 29er and my Devinci Spartan 29er. I also own a pumptrack bike, a hardtail and a road bike.
Who or what inspires you?
With racing, I get inspired by the atmosphere and all the emotions of an event. I’m always fascinated by how many people love the sport and how mountain biking connects so many different people. I absolutely love racing!
What do you enjoy doing away from bikes?
I really enjoy meeting up with friends or going on camping trips with the van. I must admit that often I just like spending time at home, cooking, doing arts and crafts projects (even if it eventually ends with an unfinished project and a mess) or just watching a good TV series.
What do you do to rest and recover after a race?
Straight after a race we are busy packing up the pits and traveling home. Once home I do easy spins, go to the spa or have a massage.
What’s your favorite motto or saying?
Facts, facts, facts. I am very interested in a lot of different topics in sports and end up researching quite a lot about it. My friends make jokes about the facts I throw into a conversation.
What annoys you?
What makes you happy?
Quite a lot. Having a good time on a bike with friends is high up the list.
What advice would you give to someone trying to get into racing?
Have good preparation. A race takes a lot of energy and you can make it easier if your body and mind are ready. It also helps to be around people that believe in you and support you. Never forget to have fun and enjoy yourself.
How do you get focused before dropping into a race run?
In my eyes, the preparation for a race run is a huge mental thing. I use my time on the turbo to warm up, focus myself, and go through the track to get myself in the right mood. It’s important to me that I'm happy and excited to drop in.
Where do you think the future of downhill racing is headed?
I see it getting more and more professional. It starts with athletes, teams, event organization etc. at the venue and ends with the coverage and information people receive in their living rooms at home. I guess a part of this will depend on rules and regulations. The people in charge have different thoughts and ideas about it and as athletes, we need to be able to debate with relevant and important points. My prediction for World Cup racing is that it will get harder for non-professional athletes.
How do you want to be remembered?
That’s a hard one. Since I'm annoyed by people that are dishonest it would be great if people would remember me as an honest person.
Anything else we should know about you?
While racing I completed a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. After I finished my studies in April 2018, I wanted to focus more on racing so I was able to keep my workload to 3 days per week. I am the Head of Operations and Administration for the coffee company Julius Meinl Schweiz. Our team is small and the flexibility allows me to attend races.